As technology and practice management goes, few things are more important than the proper backup and safeguarding of your practice data. But traditionally, physician practices remain severely behind the curve when it comes to technology. Conversely, the data stored in the medical office is vitally important. Patient records, billing, correspondence, receivables, electronic medical records and accounting information are just a partial list of items that are sitting on computer systems in your office and entrusted to your care by your patients.
Recent reports and our own experience indicate that most practice managers admit to doing a poor job at protecting their data. Many report that they have little or no process in place for disaster recovery. Shockingly, many assume that the backup is someone else’s responsibility.
In terms of backup and disaster recovery, it’s not IF, but WHEN. The key is to be prepared. Will you be a survivor or statistic?
SIN 1: You just assume that your backup is working
Your backup was set up by some vendor, perhaps your practice management software vendor. You were told that it was automated and that the most you needed to do was swap out tapes periodically.
SIN 2: You are still using tapes for backup
Tape technology is becoming obsolete and is being replaced by much faster and more reliable disk-based backup. The truth is that tape has a poor record of reliability.
SIN 3: You are only backing up practice data
Many practices are only backing up their practice management data (or at least they think so). What about all of the other files such as spreadsheets, accounting data, documents, correspondence and e-mail? Is any of this work product stranded on PCs around the office?
SIN 4: Your backups are not password protected or encrypted
What would happen if your backup fell into the wrong hands? You would likely be in a world of trouble and undoubtedly legally responsible for any ensuing damages.
SIN 5: You are not properly storing your backups
Are you or someone else in the office charged with shuttling backup tapes to and from the office? Is there any chance that those tapes were ever left in a car during a hot day in August? How about overnight in freezing temperatures? Many practices we meet extol the virtues of their “fireproof box”. Unfortunately, the likelihood of your backup tapes surviving the heat of a burning building is very low.
SIN 6: You are not keeping enough backups
Many practices are performing a daily backup, overwriting the previous backups. But what if you needed to go back to a certain point in time for legal or technical reasons? Do you have archived copies of your backup?
SIN 7: You are not using offsite data backup
Once out of reach for most medical practices, the cost of offsite data backup has plummeted to jaw-dropping lows. Integrated onsite and offsite backup strategies can be had for less than $150 per month.